Embrace the Extension in Branding

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Every day, it seems like more and more startups and companies launch on, or move to, .com alternative domain name extensions. Some do this out of necessity because the matching .com is unavailable or too expensive, and others do it for branding or other marketing purposes. In my opinion, if a company uses an alternative extension such as a new gTLD or ccTLD, they need to embrace the extension in their branding.

Aside from the increased usage of new gTLD domain names and ccTLD domain names in the startup space, a branding trend I have also noticed is the removal of the extension from logos. GoDaddy, for example, removed the .com from its corporate logo a few years ago. I have seen other large companies do the same with their logos. I think this is fine if the company owns the brand match .com domain name that consumers expect, but I think this may be an error for other companies who do not have the brand match .com domain name.

For better or worse, consumers still assume a trusted business can be found on the matching .com domain name. I would imagine this is because of the familiarity with major brands using .com domain names as well as all of the marketing and advertising dollars spent directing people to .com domain names. I have no idea if this will change, but if it does on a wide level, it is going to take time.

In the meantime, I think startups and businesses who use alternative extensions, such as .IO, .CO, .ME, .Club, .Shop, and the thousands of others, should include the extension in their branding and logotype. It is important for people to know where to find a business and how to get in touch via email or phone. I think this is important when the brand match .com domain name is operated by another entity – especially if the brand match .com domain name is owned by a competitor.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Wrong. NTLD are taking off. Watch .com zone shrink by half. This slow growth has to do with SEO. Takes time to skip.com new sites take time to rank, among other factors. Domaining is about to explode and most MEH .coms are going to drop. You might not like it…anxious to see if you moderate me away as OTHER FAKE domainers with TWISTED values do. https://lifesavings.online/guides/ Wake up I am trying to help you. Years you’ve all made fun of me, banned me from your sites for calling you FOOLS. Now I have 1000’s of THE BEST ntlds, and you have no clue where to start.

    • I have definitely not banned you or made fun of you (obviously, since you just posted here). I have no idea who you are.

      If you are making lots of money with your investments – great – that’s good for you. In my opinion, people choose alternative extensions because their first choice is taken. This, in my opinion again, means they are less willing to spend big money on alternative domain name. Many are chosen because the budget is limited. In addition there are many choices. If I own Example.Store and have a $10k asking price, a prospect might simply choose Example.Shop for $5k or Example.Website for $2k (all examples). I see high (and fluctuating renewals) with new extensions. Good for the registries not so good for investors.

      I welcome you to share sales data on NameBio to back up the fact that non .coms are actually good investments. I also invite you to share your own sales data if you would like. If you are making lots of money with your new gTLDs on your entire portfolio and not just counting sales without counting renewals – congrats – you are probably one of the very few.

      From my perspective, there is far more money to be made on .coms, and this is partly because the registries shrewdly kept the best names for themselves to sell. I would happily buy any extension if I thought I could make real money, but I do not think that is the case.

      • There’s a lot to say about SEO. Obviously a well wrote meta leads to a click via search, as does a nice domain, a myriad of things are helpful.

        I’ve been writing sites awhile and I would like to show you a bit, on how POWERFUL ntlds are.

        Now, keep in mind, this site is just a few month old. Google keeps most sites in a ‘sandbox’ environment for awhile, until trust is built. They do this to see what kind of hard stats (ctr, bounce, time on etc) the site generates before seriously considering to rank it among more established sites…credability issue, which takes time.

        Now, knowing a little bit about SEO fundamentals you know a 24% CTR is like a unicorn. since 50% of searches end in NO click, my URL is getting HALF the people that even SEE the domain to CLICK and visit! WITH AN AVG ranking of spot 7!

        This site is not a 1 off, outlier. ALL newTLD can achieve these stats, with the right domain!

        Show me similar .com that isn’t famous? The links are EXACTING click bait, and they’re ranking fast right now.

        https://lifesavings.online/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/picss.png (SCREENSHOT)

      • People are ditching sites that take 30% of profit. nTLD holders with the real gem aren’t about to let someone take 1/3 of their profit for nothing. Lots of people are moving off of PARKING and such, which would lead to the LOWER KNOWN sales. I’ve had parking sites turn me down on NTLD that receive 100+ typins A MONTH – TYPINS, 37m broad, 1m exact…turned down…ya, not smart on their part.

        Those stuck with .com are still in the old ways, keeping their sales data looking neat. $500 sales and such are almost not even worth counting IMO. Look at the life changing amounts, $20k and more. The rest = noise IMO…sure the strategy works for some. It’s pretty well known that 2k-3k is the sweet spot for a run of the mill .com.

        The best of the best NTLD will CONSTANTLY sell for 20k+, wait and see, it’ll grow.

        • Total sales over the same period (source: namebio)

          2018 – 82,822 sales
          2019 – 87,401 sales

          How would you explain that the falling numbers seem to be limited to NTLD’s, .CO, and .IO whilst the rest of the market is see substantial increases in activity?

  2. It must be re-emphasized that .COM is the ONLY TLD that is regulated by the United States, in which the Registry is prohibited 🚫 from callous price increases, or just arbitrary policies that can claw back a domain from its Registrant.

    The practical meaning of this is thus:

    All the other extensions, including ALL newgtlds, actually belongs to the registries, all they owe a registrant is a one ☝️ notice, and they can make the renewal whatever they want, something perhaps enough to make you drop the domain; and that’s if they want to follow the rules; I see nothing to stop a newgtld Registry from taking back a domain they covet, especially if there’s a success involved.

    Given the above, the only TLD one can “own”, is a .COM

    • I see what you’re saying DC and it is worrying but two things:
      1. I never really feel like I own any of them, even .com. Just a leasehold. I feel risk with all of them. The rules could change, they could be stolen. Also they’re value from nothing tangible.
      2. I wouldn’t say there is nothing stopping gTLD registries from taking names back, there’s bad press and accountability the public hold them to. The strongest gTLDs that emerge will be those that avoid anything questionable/unethical – including ridiculous premium renewals or escalating prices.

      There’s risk in all of this.

  3. I totally agree with the point that this article is making. If you’re going to go with a non dot-com, for whatever your reasons, the extension needs to be embraced as part of the company name.

    • absolutely concur

      If a company brands as “DIRECT”, yet doesn’t own the .com, it would be a miistake. The company would need to brand with the extension it owns Direct.net, Direct.me, Direct.ai — or a 2 word .com (e.g, DirectHealth.com, DiirectMeds.com)

  4. Elliot, your article is timely. I’m a real case study of this situation.

    I have a hardware/software product I’m working on and have a perfect brand name (single word) dotcom not available. I’ve thought about a different word but the word I want is perfect.

    word.com isn’t available, neither is word.co, word.io, word.ai (there is ai in the software). So I start to consider alternatives word.tech ($2,500), word.technology (taken), word.digital ($5).

    Sure I could try to change words, but it really is perfect and I can see the word (brand) on the side of the product, on the letterhead and business card.

    So I’m going through the steps:
    1. Can the business name be different to the product name? Sure (and the business may have a range of products)
    2. If I became word.digital can I live with that and a product called “word” website “word.digital” company called “Word” I don’t want the company to be called “Word Digital” or “Word.Digital” but I think I could live with that being the site and the email being info@word.digital
    3. How strong is the registry that runs .digital? Not simply number of registrations, I don’t care too much directly about that – I just care if they operate other TLDs successfully and what have they accomplished since being around? Are they going to disappear and the .digital gets bounced to another registry?

    I know .digital isn’t what I want.

    What I really want is word.co (even more than .com). The only reason I want the .com is to forward to the .co and because I know that it’s a valuable domain. Not that I emotionally want it for my business. I just see the value in this particular word.com would be in its market resale value.

    For my particular product (hardware/software) the people it’s directed at, the marketing vision and the type of customers I have in mind (few and buying many, and techie) I think that the edgier .co would be more perfect than the .com. I’m emotionally drawn to the word.co because of what the registry has done, because of who has adopted it, the types of companies.

    It’s that emotional pull that is important. Whatever name I choose I have to be proud and emotionally attached to the moniker in some way.

    So where does that leave me?
    .co is taken anyway – I want it, they wont sell.
    .com long gone (for me that would be my second choice as described above).
    .tech is not the top of list and $2,500!!
    .digital is $5 – it relates strongly to my product but can I live with it? Can I still go by “word” (the perfect word for my business) and consider word.digital something functional, not emotional?

    I love the “word” so much alone, and that’s why I like word.co because there’s more focus on the word.
    Anyways just thinking out loud – I think it all relates to the dilemma in the article.

  5. “I’m a real case study of this situation.”
    “What I really want is word.co (even more than .com).”

    //////////////

    lol You aren’t a case study Matt, you are a domainer who buys .nyc and .co, and has strange issues with .com. Outside the domain bubble people just don’t think like that.

    • I do not own a single .co – I just like the extension and like the companies who use it.

      Definitely, I am not entirely the same as non-domainer, startups and businesses but you’d be surprised about their “thinking out loud” and how even more liberal it is about new Gs.

      My brother in law has a security/intercom company and he registered a handful, he couldn’t get the .com and out of the domains he registered he settled on a .us (sure not a gTLD) but he was so happy with the .us

      I have 1 .us in my portfolio and have never thought about investing in them – he just loves his .us domain and site…

      I’m not trying to convince anyone about anything in my rambling above… but it is a real life case study of someone who knows about domains, SEO and a little about marketing and a history of running businesses… I’m in a position to speak from that POV and to ponder the risks in making the decision.

      To boil it down I want my business to be known as WORD even though my website may be WORD.DIGITAL (or another TLD). The article and some commenters feel as though if WORD.DIGITAL is the domain then the whole thing should be the name of the business/product or the whole domain should be in the branding… that may be true but it’s tough to swallow when I want my business to be known as WORD.

    • John, I’ve been going back and forth about this a lot.

      There has been a trend for the longest time about not putting the domain with the brand. Even removing descriptors (e.g. Apple Computer Inc. became Apple Computer which became Apple and that became a logo on the back of a phone or laptop).

      Cars have never had their website stamped next to their logo.

      I think Tesla were Tesla Motors Inc using teslamotors.com before they had tesla.com and it seems as though they’ve always been known as Tesla.

      It’s difficult to imagine that certain products would even force their website next to their logo whether they were using a .com or not. I’m thinking of items like shoes, jackets or electronics – never seen nike.com on a shoe, thenorthface.com on a jacket or samsung.com on the front of a TV.

      If a company is entering the shoe, jacket or TV market with a non-.com should they put their domain next to the logo in all cases? Or can it be discretely on the label with their main brand front and center (without a domain)?

      I think that a brand can be different to a domain. Sure we want them to be closely aligned, but we see this challenge more so when people cannot get their matching twitter handle, people have to go for something close but different and yet business still continues. People find who they are looking for and connect the identities and brand story.

      Not sure if it is wishful thinking but maybe a brand, company name, product/model name, domain name, twitter handle can all be slightly different but together there is a brand story and identity that is strong and memorable. As long as the product/service is amazing and memorable.

      The domain is important for sure, but so many people who visit websites simply type in the brand into search first, and then machine learning and smarts on the Google side knows which version of the brand the searcher is looking for based on location, previous searches, etc. So searching for Apple may put an orchard’s website up top if they’ve been searching for that recently, or the tech company if not.

      If Tesla stuck with teslamotors.com people searching tesla would see teslamotors.com at the top of search results (if the algorithm predicted the user was looking for the car version of the brand vs. other companies called Tesla) and the user would click, find what they want and be happy.

      As a tech educator, I see students type partial domain names into Google to arrive at where they want to go, I shake my head yet Google gets them there. All these factors affect where non-.coms are going to go, for investors and startups.

      I’m still trying to figure this out for my own project so appreciate the dialogue.

      • Thanks for bringing up the example of Tesla. It does seem to me that Tesla had no problems becoming successful while its domain name was teslamotors.com. Tesla’s case really shows that domain name, despite being an important asset, is not always a decisive factor of becoming successful for a startup.

          • Because he had an emotional connection to it. That emotional connection was to straightening out the left of the dot. He already had a .com.

            Could a car company be successful (and happy) over time with e.g. tesla.co (I think so, even if they never own the .com).

            Can they be successful and happy with Tesla.digital ( I don’t think so). There has to be a solid connection left and right of dot and it has to be a short tld in my opinion.

          • A car manufacturer could probably be successful without a domain at all.

            A new tld isn’t going to do anything for them though, totally confusing and 99% of CEO’s know instinctively not to use a non standard extensions.

  6. “especially if the brand match .com domain name is owned by a competitor.”

    In that case, it would probably result in getting sued by the competitor and losing the domain name due to potential confusion caused to visitors.

  7. I incorporate the extension in the logo because its not a .com. the extension i use is as short as can be (2 characters) so it takes less space and can be small.

    If your small and no one knows you then you need to get your name out there. If your logo is everywhere than your name should be to. As for on the products themselves i think its tacky and cheap to add the url. Won’t matter much because the packaging will have the logo with url in it.

    Firstly Matt NOBODY in their right mind would prefer a .co over a .com.
    I agree with what snoopy told Matt
    “but if you want a matching domain obviously it can’t end in “.digital” or another random term.”

    So your choices are:
    com, but they are too expensive.

    .net, nothing wrong with being second but its demeaning and somwhat embarrasing knowing people are thinking that every time they see your url. I think .net over seas is a good alternative to .com.

    .org, good extension but not for ecommerce. They will think of you even less than what they think of .net.

    Local cctld, .US….. in almost every other country in the world its either .com or local cctld.
    End users in the U.S are using .US.
    At least 90% imo of domainers buy domains for Resale. Problem for them is most of the buyers of .US are End Users. Thats why imo they are undervalued greatly in the resale market and auctions.

    imo 1st choice .com but if its unattainable then the local cctld. Which in the U.S. is .US…..john is probably going to say something nòw that i mentioned .US lol.

    I say to Matt get yourself a .co because you like it and a .US. and you and your brother in law can brag to each other about how good your U.S Domains are. Yours may be better since yours will be one word:)

    Oh and john when are you going to tell us about your valuable 4 word .com?:)

    P.s. i enjoy reading your blog.

    • “john is probably going to say something nòw that i mentioned .US lol.

      […]

      Oh and john when are you going to tell us about your valuable 4 word .com?:)”

      LOL. I was not even going to bother much with this thread and certainly not the comments anymore beyond seeing if Domenclature ever replied about .us above, but notwithstanding how you were starting to be a bit of a jerk below I actually loved this. I guess it was divine providence that I happened to look at your comment, and as I was reading it I already formed the plan to do just that, the first part, lol. Too funny. So here goes:

      Make sure you read this, re .US:

      https://domaininvesting.com/us-town-hall-hosted-by-neustar/#comment-85069

      Did you go to Loyola Law School by the way? But I digress…

      Regarding my valuable 4 word .com, not sure if you really mean the 3 word .com that is not mine I’ve alluded to many times, of if you really mean my own 4 worder. If the latter that’s actually quite a surprise you would mention that. I have a small number of great 4 worders, not just one. More than one of them have been the subject of aggressive purchase attempts, one of them by a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, which I’ve also mentioned before. As you might imagine, the subject matter of these domains is potentially extremely lucrative. Well not just “potentially” anymore, but at this point “actually,” though I knew that before the “actually” had materialized but when the latter one was still the subject of some good old fashioned chicanery and fraud to try to prevent me from getting it after I was legally entitled, since after all it was not hard to see the potential once you actually looked at it, which required quite a concentrated dose of addressing that chicanery and fraud then. But thanks for asking. 😉

    • @Loyola, “Firstly Matt NOBODY in their right mind would prefer a .co over a .com.”

      Well I honestly do for this particular project I have in mind, and for the reasons I gave.

      I would still want the .com, becaus it is valuable, and to stop competitors getting it, and to stop another non-competitive growing any brand with the name I chose, and maybe to forward visitors to my .co

      ^ why is this so hard to believe?

      I understand I am not in the majority, also that I have changed my opinion. But there is something about .co that makes the brand stand out more, communicates brand.co is still a website, while seeming new, edgy, techie, dynamic and not stuck in the past. .com is just seeming less meaningful and less relevant.

      Branding is emotional.

      P.s. I do not own any .co’s (unlike Rick Schwartz who registered 2000 .co’s didn’t he?) and I’m purely thinking about registering a single .co for a tech project that is to become a business.

  8. Oh i just want to add you should post a message like “your comment is in moderation” so people know it was submitted. Just a thought

  9. If your domain name does not end in .COM than yes, you should include your domain extension with your brand/logo.

    Consumers assume domains end in .COM. .COM is what they know and trust.

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